Principal Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Alexander Macgillivray said on May 9 that current trends in AI have presented “a real opportunity” for the Federal government to move forward with policies and regulations on the emerging technology.

“The AI moment that we are currently in has created a real opportunity for productive movement for civil society to help us flesh out national and international approaches on AI,” said Macgillivray during CSIS’s Wadhwani Center for AI Launch Conference.

“President Biden has been clear: artificial intelligence is one of the most powerful tools of our time,” Macgillivray continued. “But to seize its opportunities, we must first mitigate its risks.”

Just last week, the Biden administration announced several new AI initiatives that aim to promote responsible innovation while protecting Americans’ rights and safety, including the creation of policies within Federal agencies for use of the emerging technology.

During the CSIS event on Tuesday, the White House Principal Deputy CTO said that it’s too soon to say what the new requirements will be for departments when it comes to AI, but that the White House is approaching development of new policies through the context of existing regulations.

The government won’t be starting from scratch, Macgillivray said. The Biden administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and the AI Risk Management Framework already serve as baseline protections for the American public.

Macgillivray – who operates within the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) – said that mitigating the risks of AI while still advancing the technology is a gap that OSTP is working to fill.

Officials from the White House met with CEOs of major AI companies last week to discuss the importance of protecting the American public while fostering the evolution of AI. Macgillivray said he looks forward to continuing to collaborate with industry on this topic and appreciates their open dialogue and relationship as the White House moves forward on releasing AI legislation and governance.

The OSTP official said that the “gold standard” for AI regulation is to stand the test of time.

“The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights lays out those core fundamental rights, and the blueprint came out before the most recent generative AI stuff really hit the floor,” Macgillivray explained during the CSIS event. “And yet, all of those same things hold really well today even after that technological development.”

“So of course, the gold standard is to do something that will stand the test of time,” he continued, adding, “What you’re trying to do is to build laws and regulations that will last through technological evolution.”

CSIS announced the establishment of the Wadhwani Center for AI and Advanced Technologies last month, but marked the official launch of the center on May 9 with a half-day conference that brought together government leaders, industry executives, and AI scholars who discussed the state of the field and future implications of AI.

The new AI center’s main goal is to produce in-depth research, analysis, and policy recommendations to equip lawmakers and government officials with a better understanding of rapidly evolving technology ecosystems and their impacts on U.S. national security.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan